You’re all a bunch of aliens

I sorta got my alien-future wish.

I grew up reading science fiction, watching Star Trek and Star Wars and reading anything that had a story that was set in space and/or the far future.

I always wanted to live in a future where I could interact with all sorts of aliens and learn about their cultures.  And who knows…

Picture from Technabob

I don’t think the aliens from outer space are going to show up anytime soon (though I’ll be happy as a clam if they do, as long as they’re friendly) but I’ve been thinking lately that I’ve got my alien future in at least one respect.

The last few years we’ve seen a major shift in the U.S. where bigotry of at least one form is becoming something more and more people aren’t putting up with.

That’s bigotry against people who have fallen in love (and want to marry more specifically) people of the same sex.

When I was an adolescent I was surrounded by people who were openly anti-gay and I freely joined in when others went on various anti-gay tears. I’m not proud of that but I won’t deny that I behaved badly back then.

At the time the objections voiced against gay people were only about the way they engaged in sex.  There was never any discussion about how they felt about other people and all the exposure I had just consisted of sex. sex, sex, sex.  That’s all being gay was about as far as I knew, because that’s all anyone else talked about when they talked about someone who was gay.

In the last few years more people have been talking more openly about being gay and what it is about to them and I finally came around and joined in with the thinking that they aren’t hurting anyone, they just want to be able to love another person in the same way, with the same benefits (and risks) that I can.

Ok, they’re aliens.  I don’t grok (go look it up if you’re too young to know what that means) what it’s like to be gay.  While there are men who I love, there are none that I’m “attracted” to.  But I can accept that other people are attracted to the same sex and you know what?  It doesn’t affect me, my life or my marriage one bit.

So, why are they aliens?

As I was growing up, I came to the conclusion that I was pretty average.  I was like most people, and most people were like me.

As I came around to supporting gay marriage I also realized that I subconsciously expected other people to behave the way I did in a lot of little and not so little ways.  After all, if I’m like most people then why wouldn’t they do things the way I do them?

But I’m not “average.”  I’m not like most people.  I’m unique.  You’re unique.  We have some similarities, beginning with the fact that we’re human (at least, I assume you are) but we diverge pretty quickly from there.

I like working with electronics.  Some of you do to.  But in different ways.

I like dancing.  Some of you do to.  But again, in different ways.

It doesn’t really matter how many things we can list in the sets of things that we have in common.  The color/texture/feel of the things in those sets are going to be different in ways that are important to each individual.

Where do the aliens in my alien wish come in?

Right there. You.  You’re an alien.  You’re all a bunch of aliens.

Some like these:


Easily amused and fun to be around.

A few like this:

To be avoided at all costs.

Some demonstrating for something they care about


Some just sitting behind a computer, reading.

Whenever I see someone doing something, wearing something, saying something that I would wish to change, I just think “they’re an alien.  Why would they do/wear/say anything other than what I just observed?”  I accept it and move on with my life.

You know, little things like going out in public dressed like they’re 40 years younger than they really are.  They’re an alien.  Aliens do that.

They’ve got tattoos all over and piercings that I recoil from?  Alien.  Ok, whatever.  Moving along with my life.

It’s the sort of thing that travelers among you might find familiar.  When you’re in a strange town or country, you don’t expect people to act like you do.  When they do or say something strange you just put it down to different customs wherever you are and you move along with your life.

This is pretty much limited to generally unoffensive behavior.  If it doesn’t harm anyone else, you get the alien tag and I just try to enjoy whatever you’re doing in that context.

It helps.  It really does.

Next time you run across someone doing, saying, wearing something that strikes you as odd and “alien” and you wish they would look/behave more normal, just think of them as an alien  Visiting aliens that should be observed and enjoyed in that context.

After all, why would they do anything else but act differently from you or me?  They’re aliens.

Sometimes they actually want to marry us.

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Michael Harrison

Husband, Programmer, Irish dancer, tinkerer, astronomer, layabout (as much as possible)

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